Teach Your Children Wellness

Get your kids to shun weight stigma by helping them develop good habits. Here are five tips that can make a real difference.

Rebecca Puhl,  PhD, deputy director for the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut discusses how parents can help foster self-confidence and self-care in their children . Here's what she had to say:

Talk accomplishments, not appearances

Women and girls are celebrated for how pretty they are. When you talk to your daughter, focus on her talents rather than her looks. Discuss how she’s excelling in different parts of her life, whether it’s academics, theater, or sports. (And it wouldn’t hurt to do the same with your son, too.)

Put the brakes on bullying

Understand that bullies don’t have a specific gender—your daughter or your son could be one. Hold your child accountable for making disparaging comments based on a person’s weight. And work to find out where this urge to bully is coming from.

Watch your self-talk

So many women engage in “fat talk”—“I look so fat in these jeans,” etc. If you speak like that in front of your kids, you’re reinforcing the idea that physical appearance is what’s most important in judging another person.

Practice acceptance

When speaking in front of your children, always try to demonstrate openness, tolerance, and an apprecia­tion for diversity. If you speak negatively, your child is likely to pick up on those attitudes and may harbor the same sentiments.

Give your child hope

It’s key to tell kids that they can accomplish anything they set their minds to, regardless of what they look like. Too often, we hear, “I would be so successful if I were thin.” Don’t let your child use that excuse.